If one article could answer the question as to how people become criminals we would be one our way to solving crime. After a career in law enforcement these are the reasons I saw as to how someone becomes a criminal. All of these reasons can be related to why someone becomes a criminal, but “how” can be answered in a more concise manner.
The opportunity to commit a crime has to be present. Purses left unattended in a shopping cart present the opportunity for a thief to steal it. Vehicles left unlocked present the opportunity for a burglar to enter and steal belongings.
Lacking constructive things to do with ones time puts people in the position to look for those opportunities to commit crime. This category deals with a lot of juveniles who are left to fend for themselves when it comes to time management.
Drugs and/or alcohol are a part of the vast majority of crimes in one way or another. Crimes surrounding the possession/use of drugs and alcohol account for some. Subjects being under the influence of either drugs and/or alcohol, who are not thinking properly account for a lot of crime. Those who have to find a way to supply an addiction account for more crime. This category spins a dead end cycle for how many people become criminals.
Many are taught how to commit crime, either by family members or friends. A sad fact is parents often use their children to commit crimes, such as shoplifting, because juveniles are not punished as severely as adults. Drug dealers have found juveniles as viable resource in furthering their criminal ventures. Juveniles also learn from other juveniles how to be a criminal.
The reasons someone may choose to commit a crime are as varied as the different types of people. Check fraud and forgery crimes were two that were often linked to drugs and/or alcohol, but also the two crimes where a conscious choice was made to profit from crime.
Similar to drugs/alcohol, angers chemical reaction in the brain causes irrational thought and lack of control. Anger clouds judgment and when combined with opportunity allows many to commit crimes they normally would not. Allowing emotion to take over ones actions created a how quickly one can become a criminal for a number of individuals.
All of these reasons (except anger) surrounded monetary gain of some kind. Some people think they deserve what they perceive others have without earning it. Some people get into a financial bind and see crime as their only option. Others just are plain greedy.
While there are probably other reasons surrounding how someone becomes a criminal these are the most predominant reasons, supported by people with a career in law enforcement and what they’ve learned.